Bead Looms

I was just playing around here and at other bead sites (the guests are all gone, the kitchen floor scrubbed . . . on hands and knees and boy is that wooden floor a whole lot of shades lighter now that I’ve removed the ground-in dirt!, the dreaded tax stuff sitting in a threatening pile, the sun bright and waiting for me to take my daily walk to make sure the mountain is still standing properly, etc.) looking at looms. It was mentioned on the Bead Creator blog that there are “lots and lots of manufactured looms out there”, which is indeed true, so I wanted to get a sense for what the looms are, what makes each one different, pricing of looms, etc. What I found: there is a standard model for many bead looms and most are made of wood of varying degrees of strength, beauty, value and a few are made of light metal like the ones most of us had when we were kids. Those looms: 1) allow you to put on one plane of warp or have roller beams so that you can advance the warp; 2) have the warp attached at either end to a single nail or more; 3) provide a spring at either end through which the warp is spread out evenly. Additional features may include: 1) the ability to adjust the size of the loom to accommodate different length weavings; 2) a stand as part of the loom or an additional stand to put the loom in an upright position. And then there are the plastic looms which are more like forms about which you can wrap your warp. There are also “heddle looms” but I can’t find any that still exist. These operate like actual weaving cloth weaving looms and were originally used by Native Americans.And then there is the Mirrix Loom (okay, so you knew I was going land at exactly this spot): The Mirrix Loom is NOT a bead loom (well, it wasn’t at first but it is now). It is a tapestry loom. Its closest relative would be the “heddle looms”. It functions in a similar, but not identical, fashion. (Let me digress slightly here. I want to mention that all those cool beaded purses from the 30s and 40s were in fact made on regular cloth weaving looms. If you look at t hose purses closely you will see a line of thread between every line of beads. That provided stability because two beads lay between every warp thread. The Mirrix was designed to avoid the two bead/one warp/two bead method so that there could be a bead/warp/bead/warp hence eliminating the need for that extra thread between rows of beads.) The only difference between weaving tapestry on a Mirrix and weaving beads is that when you weave beads you put two warps in every dent (the space in the spring) so that when you raise one set of those threads in order to literally weave your beads (Place them between the raised and lowered sets of warps) you end up with a warp/bead/warp/bead, etc. Otherwise, if you just had one warp thread in each dent, you would end up with a warp/bead/bead/warp. Hard to visualize unless you are sitting in front of a Mirrix. So, having designed this lovely tapestry loom to suit all MY tapestry needs (and that is exactly why I invented the Mirrix, not originally to sell it) and finally gone into business with it, it was pointed out to me by some bead folks, namely Ms. Jane from Jane’s Fiber and Beads, that this would make a fabulous bead loom. It would be overkill, of course, because the requirements of tapestry (strength of loom) far out way the requirements of bead weaving. But overkill is good because overkill means the equipment will not fail you and will last forever. (Note here that wooden looms of lower quality wood or particle board will degrade over time but metal will most likely not.) I learned how to weave beads. I didn’t particularly want to, mind you. I was perfectly happy with fiber and dyeing and spinning and all that very cool stuff. Who needed beads? Plus, I couldn’t dye them and I didn’t think there could possibly be enough colors to suit my needs. Wrong, but who knew that then.We discovered that you can simply use the Mirrix to weave beads in the standard way: putting a row of beads on thread and placing those beads behind and in between the warps that are on the loom and then sewing through the tops of the beads to attach them to the warp OR you could use the shedding device and actually weave the beads.So what makes the Mirrix different from other looms: 1) it’s amazingly strong and will stand up to any beading moment you want to throw at it; 2) it’s very adjustable and accommodates two planes of warp (versus looms that only allow you to weave on the front or looms with roller beams which aren’t so great because as you release and roll up the warp you often mess up the tension); 3) it is vertical ; 4) it provides two methods for weaving beads (except for the two smallest ones, which do not include the shedding device); 5) it does not use the nail method for warping which in fact I find very difficult to accomplish; rather it uses a continuous warp which provides consistent tension; 6) it has available lots of spring options for use with any size bead; 7) it’s made of some really serious metal.The Mirrix Loom is a serious bead (or tapestry) loom which is nothing like the other many, many bead looms out there. But it also can be for a beginner. It’s just a great loom. And since I am its Mom, I think I am bragging! HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR! Claudia